Business World

Approved foreign investment pledges lowest in more than a decade — PSA

- By Jochebed B. Gonzales Senior Researcher

APPROVED foreign investment commitment­s fell to their worst level in 12 years, according to data the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) released on Thursday.

The PSA said approved foreign investment pledges for the entire 2017 totaled P105.6 billion, down by an annual 51.8%. This was the lowest amount since 2005’s P95.8 billion.

The tally for the fourth quarter was likewise lackluster, plunging 82.8% to P21.6 billion from P125.7 billion in 2016’s comparable three months.

“The drop in foreign investment pledges in 2017 may be attributed to the high base/denominato­r effects in previous years,” said Michael L. Ricafort, economist at Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.

He likewise cited “tentativen­ess on investment” in the face of the five-month siege of Marawi City up to October last year and US President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy that encouraged US businesses to invest more at home than abroad in order to create jobs.

The United States’ approved investment pledges of P8.7 billion in 2017 was merely 8.3% of the total for the year and was 72.2%

less than the P31.4 billion in 2016.

For Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion, chief economist at the Union Bank of the Philippine­s, “the way the government was dealing with different countries may have an impact on foreign investment­s.”

Approved commitment­s from the Netherland­s and Australia, which were the top two sources of foreign investment pledges in 2016, showed the biggest drops last year. Investment pledges from the Netherland­s dropped 80.5% to P9.6 billion last year from P49.4 billion in 2016. Australia, meanwhile, saw pledges drop 87.9% to P3.9 billion in 2017 from P32.4 billion a year prior.

The country’s largest foreign investor in 2017 was Japan, whose approved FIs registered P32 billion, an 18.2% increase from 2016. Japanese investment­s accounted for 30.3% of total pledges, followed by Taiwan ( 10.3%) and Singapore (9.6%).

Pledges from China and Hong Kong increased by 53.6% ( P2.3 billion) and 16.4% (P1.6 billion), respective­ly.

The report counted investment pledges from the government’s seven premier investment promotion agencies ( IPAs), namely: the free port authoritie­s of Bataan, Clark, Cagayan, Subic and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, as well as the Board of Investment­s and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).

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